I really loved the quote by Fr. Thomas Dubay in yesterday's post. The phrase "sparing-sharing lifestyle" particularly jumped out. It's something that I hear a lot of people talking about, without having such an apt name for it. In particular, I see a lot of people wanting to work on making their Christmas simpler and more aimed at sharing with others. Though I'm not connecting it directly to the book discussion (though it's particularly appropriate to the "7" discussion), I thought it would make a great topic to discuss here
So the question is, how can we make Christmas simpler, more meaningful, less stressful, and altogether what it should be for us as Catholics and Christians?
Here are a few ideas to get us started. Please share your own ideas in the comments box.
1. Read Lovely Stories (and watch lovely movies) that elevate Christmas as something greater and more beautiful than just the trappings and gifts. A few examples that come to mind are: The story of the birth of Jesus in the bible, Star in the Night, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Little House Books, It's a Wonderful Life...
2. Agree to exchange donation-type gifts with the grown-ups in place of a gift exchange.
3. Let some of your purchases for your family or yourself be saved as Christmas goodies instead of just buying them on a whim (and rather than stretching to find something *else* for Christmas). These can include things like new shoes or a new sweater, some fun kitchen implements, nice spice mixes, or a long awaited new book. Not only does this reduce the accumulation of "stuff", but it also can make some of those things seem less ordinary.
4. Celebrate Advent well. Let it be a time of simplicity and preparation that makes room for the wonder and mystery of the season. While it's not as penitential a season as Lent, it's certain an appropriate time to give up some favorite foods and donate the money to those in need.
One of our favorite Advent traditions is to place pieces of “straw” (strips of yellow construction paper) in our simple manger to symbolize good things we are doing to prepare our hearts for the birth of baby Jesus (like doing a good deed, going to Mass or confession, etc.) On Christmas morning, the manger is under the Christmas tree with Baby Jesus (a simple baby doll) comfortably nestled inside.
5. Encourage homemade gifts. Step 1: Have materials available. Step 2: Let your kids make a mess. ;)
6. Avoid using credit cards.
7. Make volunteering to help the needy (soup kitchen, pregnancy help center, etc.) a part of your Advent traditions.
8. Organize a food, book or clothing drive for the needy at your local school or parish.
9. Host a secret toy exchange in your community.
This one's going to be under construction for awhile. I'll come back to it, but in the meantime, please share your own ideas (and your favorite books and movies for inspiring a Sparing-Sharing Christmas!).